*I received a free ARC of this book with thanks to the author and Rachel Gilbey at Rachel’s Random Resources blog tours. The decision to review and my opinions are my own.*
Blurb: Beth Haldane, SE21’s premier – and only – single mum amateur sleuth, is really pleased to find a new friend at the school gates, in the shape of irrepressibly bouncy Nina. As well as a way with words, Nina has a puzzle she wants Beth to solve, centred on the solicitor’s office where Nina works in Herne Hill.
But as the mystery thickens, threatening to drag in not just Nina and her boss, but the yummy mummies of Dulwich, too, Beth is about to find out just how far some people will go to keep up appearances.
Join Beth in this fourth instalment in the London Murder Mystery series for her toughest case yet.
The fourth in The London Murder Mysteries series, Homicide in Herne Hill, sees Beth taking on a side job to help out a friend suspicious of her boss.
Technically the story does stand alone, but the development of the characters and their relationships is better experienced by reading the books in order. For example, Harry seems strangely controlling unless you know that Beth has developed habits of secrecy and nefarious deeds (in the name of good) that regularly put her in physical danger!
The murder plot in this story is a slow builder, with most of the tension coming from Beth’s attempts to access information and the intrigue from the side plot of a rash of poorly pets in the Dulwich area.
We see less of Beth’s usual work setting, and her son, as the plot necessitates her spending most of her time on her investigations and Ben gets to spend his days with television and junk food at the irrepressible Nina’s flat.
Which brings me to a small criticism this time round: why oh why does Beth, who strongly distinguishes herself from the judgy mummy clique, keep on and on about the food Nina serves and the entertainment she provides? After all, she’s looking after Ben for free, feeding both of them most evenings, on what is clearly a limited budget, and also offering a warm, friendly ear as and when Beth requires it whilst expecting no financial reward or emotional support herself! I got a little bit cross with Beth under the circumstances and felt her obsession with Nina’s breaded products wasn’t that different from Belinda and co sniffing at Beth’s lack of extra-curricular activity provision!
Other than that minor irk, the novel is the usual well-written family-friendly mystery I’ve come to expect from this author, and a welcome addition to the Dulwich death toll. This series is highly recommended for fans of the amateur investigation genre looking for a well-rounded main character with realistic life problems outside of the fatal ones!
‘I’m Beth, my son Ben is in Year 6,’ she said, proffering a hand. Her new companion, busy rooting through the pockets of a puffy winter jacket, didn’t seem to notice. ‘Yeah, Nina,’ she said. ‘My Wilf’s just started this term, Year 1. I know who you are. You’re the one who keeps catching murderers.’
‘Oh!’ Beth was stunned. She’d realised she’d been getting a few sidelong glances in the playground recently. But were people saying that about her? And was it even true? ‘I’m not sure that’s really… I just seem to be in the right place. Or maybe the wrong place, if you know what I mean.’
Nina gave her a level look. ‘Just as long as I don’t get knocked off just for sitting next to you,’ she said. Then just as Beth started to worry she was serious, she let out a huge guffaw. ‘Nah, you’re all right. At least you’re doing something interesting. I get the feeling that if I hung out with some of the other mums, all I’d get would be a bad case of baby brain. And that I can do without,’ she said, nudging Beth sharply in the ribs. To her surprise, Beth found herself laughing. There was something infectious about the twinkle in Nina’s eye.
– Alice Castle, Homicide in Herne Hill
Homicide in Herne Hill is available on Amazon right now!
Don’t forget to visit the other stops on the tour (poster below) for more great reviews and content, and go check out my reviews of Death in Dulwich, The Girl in the Gallery and Calamity in Camberwell too!